Tech Startups Over-Emphasize Technology When Selling to the Chief Marketing Officer

When I was in the technology world, there was a strong emphasis on product; it was the heart and soul of everything we did.
Now that I have a macro perspective on tech startups trying to sell to the CMO, VP of Marketing or agency partners, I realize the emphasis on product is confusing. Tech startups approach me every single day with an amazing piece of technological innovation. They tell me the stories of late nights spent bending and forming Ruby on Rails into a masterpiece of technical wonder that would lift the hearts of Steve Wozniak or Thomas Edison. But I find myself asking the same simple question over and over. Why?
Why did you invest 10,000 hours to become a master coder, then choose to develop this? Why have you given up a steady paycheck and a corporate health plan for this? Why did you join a co-working space that houses 50 other companies all competing for the same budget from the marketing department and expect to win? And the question that’s surely never answered: why should I build a marketing campaign around your technology, aside from the fact that “it’s cool?”
This answer to this question isn’t so much dismissed as it is forgotten. Tech startup founders used to know what problem they were solving when they were coming up with their initial idea. But all the work of building a minimum viable product, recruiting a team, raising money from investors, acquiring users and running a business has flown by in a whirlwind. So, like any of us mere mortals, their memories have slipped, and they’ve forgotten that the original problem they set out to solve isn’t as obvious to everyone else as it is to them.
So, I will continue to ask them, “Why?”
And I will continue to help them remember the reason they set out to build this miraculous piece of technology in the first place is the same reason that Chief Marketing Officers will want to buy it from them.

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